Owner refutes speculative reports, expresses optimism in team's playoff chase
ANAHEIM -- The remaining regular-season games will determine whether the Angels make the playoffs or fall short of expectations, but they will not determine whether Mike Scioscia returns as the Angels' manager in 2013.
"Regardless of what happens the next 11 games, Mike Scioscia will 100 percent return," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a phone interview with MLB.com on Saturday. "I have told him. He wants to come back, I want him to come back. He's been the manager of the Angels for 13 years. He will be the manager of the Angels for a 14th year. Period."
Moreno's decision isn't a recent one. "I've known all along that I am not changing my manager," he said.
The same applies to first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto.
"Jerry Dipoto will be back," said Moreno, who in January 2009 signed Scioscia to a 10-year contract that runs through 2018 and last offseason hired Dipoto to replace Tony Reagins. "I think we're learning a lot about ourselves, but [Dipoto] will be back."
Despite beating the White Sox, 6-2, on Friday night, the Angels entered Saturday 3 1/2 games out of the second American League Wild Card spot with no matchups remaining against the teams directly ahead of them. They defeated the Sox, 4-2, on Saturday night to cut their deficit to 2 1/2. Afterward, Scioscia discussed Moreno's decision.
"From my end of it," Scioscia said, "I have a commitment here. I love it here. I have a passion for it. I'm happy Arte feels the same way. We need to keep moving forward, getting better. There have been a lot of things floating around that weren't accurate. Now we can just concentrate on playing baseball."
If the Angels don't make the playoffs, it would mark their third consecutive postseason absence, and it would come after an offseason in which Moreno committed more than $315 million on the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
That has prompted speculation about the job security of Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the Major Leagues, and his relationship with Dipoto, who has been given more authority than any other GM during Scioscia's tenure.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com on Saturday described the communication between Scioscia and Dipoto as "strained," attributing unnamed sources in reporting that "their relationship has teetered throughout the season and neared a breaking point on more than one occasion."
A Friday night story by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com said Moreno has been upset with the job performances of both Dipoto and Scioscia, adding that the Angels' owner has "expressed dissatisfaction with Dipoto at times, too, going so far as to question whether he made the right call to hire him."
"These reports," Moreno said, "wherever they're coming from, are [false]."
Separate sources have said Dipoto and Scioscia have quarreled over differing philosophies and certain decisions -- particularly regarding the dismissal of long-time hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in May -- but Moreno expressed confidence that they can co-exist.
"Jerry and Mike communicate every day, multiple times a day, and there's no problem," he said. "They'll both be back. They will work together. We're trying to figure out how to win, but they will be back. There's no problem between those two."
Said Scioscia: "A lot of things being portrayed were inaccurate. The media can portray things any way you see them. You can portray a conversation as friction or two opinions. There's not a manager in baseball that doesn't have candid conversations with the general manager. Some people tried to portray my relationship with Jerry as something that's not accurate."
Moreno wanted to clear up another issue: Not only are the Angels not moving to City of Industry in Los Angeles, but such an idea hasn't even been discussed.
The Los Angeles Daily News reported Wednesday that the team had engaged in "preliminary talks" about moving the franchise to Industry, citing "a source with close ties to Industry City Hall." But Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl told the Los Angeles Times that the Angels have not held negotiations about moving to a potential new ballpark there.
The Times also reported that Moreno and Kuhl met in April with AEG president Tim Leiweke, but Moreno clarified that the meeting -- alongside president John Carpino, not Kuhl -- was informal, took place at an L.A. Live event and was unrelated to a proposed new ballpark. AEG, which has been trying to help bring an NFL team to Los Angeles, runs the Angels' merchandising.
"We are not in discussions, we have never been in discussions, with either the City of Industry or AEG and L.A.," Moreno said. "There are no discussions."
With reports swirling about the relationship between his veteran skipper and rookie GM, and an attendance that is slightly down from last year -- though the Angels will reach 3 million fans for a 10th straight season -- Moreno is trying to quell any misperceptions.
"Right now," he said, "what I'm happy [about] is we're still in it."
While speaking from in transit, Moreno noted that the A's played the Yankees in New York on Saturday. If the A's lost -- they did, 10-9, in 14 innings -- and the Angels win Saturday night against Chicago -- they did -- his team would be 2 1/2 games out with 10 remaining.
"Is that insurmountable? They have today and tomorrow against the Yankees and they still have [seven] games with Texas," Moreno said. "So, for me, I have to look forward. I mean, we're still playing. When we're not playing anymore, then you try to figure out how you can do better. But like I said earlier, we're trying to win. We're not going out there trying to lose.
"Fans and writers can guess on whether you're making the right decisions or not the right decisions. That is everybody's opportunity. That's the great part of the game. But when they start writing about information that is incorrect, it makes me upset. Why shouldn't I be [upset] about it?
You see, the thing is they're giving our fans incorrect information, and we're talking about people. We're talking about the manager of the team, we're talking about our general manager, and they're giving wrong information. I don't know where they're getting their information, but they're speculating about people and their lives, and it's wrong information."